August 31, 2022

What My Bones Know

Stephanie Foo

Stephanie Foo is a writer and radio producer, most recently for This American Life. Her work has aired on Snap Judgment, Reply All, 99% Invisible, and Radiolab. A noted speaker and instructor, she has taught at Columbia University and has spoken at venues from Sundance Film Festival to the Missouri Department of Mental Health. She lives in New York City.

She is also the author of a new book

This is a searing memoir of reckoning and healing by acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo, investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD and how it has shaped her life.

By age thirty, Stephanie Foo was successful on paper: She had her dream job as an award-winning radio producer at This American Life and a loving boyfriend. But behind her office door, she was having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk every morning. After years of questioning what was wrong with herself, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD—a condition that occurs when trauma happens continuously, over the course of years.

Both of Foo’s parents abandoned her when she was a teenager, after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. She thought she’d moved on, but her new diagnosis illuminated the way her past continued to threaten her health, relationships, and career. She found limited resources to help her, so Foo set out to heal herself, and to map her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD.

In this deeply personal and thoroughly researched account, Foo interviews scientists and psychologists and tries a variety of innovative therapies. She returns to her hometown of San Jose, California, to investigate the effects of immigrant trauma on the community, and she uncovers family secrets in the country of her birth, Malaysia, to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations. Ultimately, she discovers that you don’t move on from trauma—but you can learn to move with it.

Powerful, enlightening, and hopeful, What My Bones Know is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body—and examines one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma.

Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone said,
“Achingly exquisite . . . providing real hope for those who long to heal.”

August 30, 2022

Melissa Koslin Interviewing With Suite T


Melissa Koslin

Melissa Koslin started writing in 2009. Koslin is making a name for herself in the romantic suspense genre with her engaging mysteries that draw readers in and keep them spellbound. In Dangerous Beauty, Koslin throws two characters into an unlikely situation—an arranged marriage for a good cause. Dark origins, buried secrets, and a dangerous buyer collide in this breakneck tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Who were/are two of your favorite authors? 

Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Camden, Roseanna M. White, Jody Hedlund, J.K. Rowling, O. Henry

Do you feel they influenced you? In what way? 

Charlotte Bronte for sure. I LOVE Jane Eyre, how Bronte weaves in darkness and shadow yet maintains innocence and virtue in the main character. Even with his brooding nature and checkered past, Mr. Rochester has managed to hold onto goodness.

What point in your writing career did you feel like you had gone from amateur to pro? I don’t think there was a specific time. I just keep learning. I never want to think of myself as done learning—that’s when you start failing.

What do you look for in choosing a setting for your book? The story usually dictates the place. In Dangerous Beauty, the main character escapes human traffickers not long after being brought over the border, so I set the book in Texas.

What steps if any are involved in research for your book? 

Read, read, read, verify sources.

In writing your new book, what do you feel makes it stand out? 

A fresh twist on marriage of convenience. I won’t give anything away, but Meric is not your standard romance story billionaire. His past (and his present, for that matter) is a lot more complicated. And Liliana may have no real power or resources, but she is not a damsel in distress. She refuses to give up to the term victim.

In your new book, what would you like the reader to feel and walk away with?

Hope. That there are truly good people out there, who will help others for no other reason than they have the ability and it’s the right thing. And also, perhaps swoony at times. 😊

What is the best writing advice you have received so far?

 Show don’t tell.

What is the worst? 

Write in present tense. I just can’t do it.

Between plotting, character development, dialogue, scenes which is easiest for you, and which takes a lot of effort?

I suppose plotting takes the most effort. I plot in advance. It takes a lot of focus to make sure everything logically lines up. Dialogue feels the easiest because I’ve already plotted and already at least kind of know what they’re going to say.

What is your schedule for writing? 

I’m a new mother, so whenever I can squeeze in 5 minutes.

What do you do if you get stumped? 

Keep thinking. There is ALWAYS a solution. The line editor for Never Miss found a pretty big issue in that book, and I found a way around it that worked out really well. I was almost glad she found the issue.

Did you or do you make any sacrifices to be a writer? 

No. I love it.

Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?

 I guess I fell into in naturally. I’m a bit of a romantic (dramatic but not sappy), and I’m a 4th degree black belt so the action parts of my books came out organically because of that background.

What is the best way you found to market your book? 

A little (or a lot) of everything.

Did you actively build a network of readers and if so, how? 

I’m building that mostly through social media and my newsletter (sign up at my website!).

Are you on the Social Media Highway and if so, do you schedule times to post? 

I squeeze it in whenever I can.

What advice would you like to give new authors that would help them? 

My advice to writers when I ran a critique group was to listen to all advice openly, don’t be afraid to dismiss it if you disagree, but also pay more attention when different people keep telling you the same thing. You don’t have to do exactly what they advise, but you should mull it over and find what feels right.

Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. The author of Never Miss, Melissa lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband, Corey.

 Find more information on her books at

August 26, 2022

Delighting All Children

Matthew Paul Turner
I Am God's Dream

A beautiful celebration of the unique, strong traits that every child has—and how God adores and delights in all of our strengths and quirks—from the bestselling author of When God Made You.

I Am God’s Dream is a deeply encouraging exploration of the unique strengths, curiosities, and desires in every kid. In this deeply affirming picture book, children will see how God celebrates and adores each of us—and why we should be proud to be who we are. Kids of all faith traditions will receive in these pages the gift of empowerment, purpose, and ownership over their own faith perspective early on through Matthew Paul Turner’s lyrical phrasing:

I’m strong and I’m brave
I’m a one-kid parade
I’m gonna be who I am ’cause I’m wonderfully made

In I Am God’s Dream, kids will discover: 

  • The truth that God loves us deeply, and delights in who we are
  • The unique strengths and traits that make up our lives
  • The beautiful richness in diversity

Parents and children alike will be encouraged in these vivid and empowering pages.

A book to delight all children and parents. Written by Matthew Paul Turner. 

Matthew Paul Turner is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What Is God Like? as well as When God Made You and When I Pray for You. When the father of three isn’t writing books, he’s photographing interesting people and places, practicing wood carving, and watching his children play soccer.

 Visit his website at

August 24, 2022

From Scotland to Los Angeles~Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of nine books for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, both of which have recently been adapted for film. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @JenEsmith or visit her at

This book will definitely pull heart strings. Rebecca Serle, bestselling author of In Five Years, said, “a pitch-perfect story about the ways we recover love in the strangest places” and Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over said, “The characters are drawn with a generosity that allows them to be wrong but also right, loving but also prone to missteps, and ultimately deserving of a resolution that’s full of hope.”

The Unsinkable Greta James

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life.
Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.

Jennifer said, "I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never thought of it as an actual career. Growing up, it seemed about as likely as becoming a ballerina or an astronaut. But here’s the secret: writing and publishing are two very different things. And I always knew I’d write, because it was something I really loved to do. But it’s still kind of amazing to me that my work has been published, and that there are people out there reading it. So I feel very, very lucky."

August 23, 2022

Amazon Editors' #1 Book of 2022 So Far

Shelby Van Pelt

So far, the Amazon Editors' #1 Book of 2022  is Shelby Van Pelt's Remarkably Bright Creatures.

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

When Shelby Van Pelt isn’t feeding her flash-fiction addiction, she’s juggling cats while wrangling children. Her debut novel, REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES, will be published by HarperCollins in May 2022. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she’s currently missing the mountains in the suburbs of Chicago. Find her at, on Twitter @shelbyvanpelt and Instagram @shelbyvanpeltwrites.

August 22, 2022

Sense, Sentiment, & Sentimentality

Sara M. Robinson

No, I am not channeling some of Jane Austen. I’m leaving out “sensibility.” We know why we are here. From this poet’s view, I want to share the importance of those three words to a writer.

Let’s start with the definitions (from Webster’s New World Dictionary )and then expand the meanings for the composition of poetry.

Sense: to feel, perceive; an ability to judge, distinguish, discriminate, or estimate external conditions; an ability to feel, appreciate, understand, or comprehend some quality, such as humor; an ability to think or reason soundly.

We all agree that artists have a special “sense” when it comes to capturing the presence or essence of their craft. Think de Vinci and his “Mona Lisa.” Think Walt Whitman and his tome, Leaves of Grass. It is this sense that is the underlying driver for language that becomes the heart of poetry. In other columns, I have touched on aspects of sense, but this column is offering attention to differing uses of the root word, “sense.” Poetry draws upon the expansion of sense to give reason to what we observe or feel. In her poem, “Scraps,” Louise Glück has these lines which portray sense very well: “… I saw / Myself at seven learning / Distance at my mother’s knee…” The discovery by the child is her sense of her future.

Sentiment: a complex combination of feelings and opinions as a basis for action or judgment; general emotionalized attitude (i.e. patriotism); a thought, opinion, or attitude, usually a result of deliberation, but often colored with emotion; delicacy of feeling; appeal to the emotions in literature or art. For example, think of all the poetry by the Brownings. They called that era of writing and culture the Romantic era, for a reason. Here is the famous first line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” In contemporary American poetry, we read the very strong patriotism of Walt Whitman. He makes no attempt to hide his sentiment about America. I urge you to read his poem, “Salut au Monde!” Then read “I,Too” by Langston Hughes. This poem is the definition of “sentiment.”

Sentimentality: character, condition, or quality of being sentimental. With sentimental meaning having or showing tenderness, emotion, delicate feeling, etc. as in music or poetry. So let’s focus on poetry here. In the Romantic period, poets such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Mary Robinson, spent much of their writing energy on exultations of the human spirit. Poems dedicated to the seasons and many devoted to religion and innocence were frequently published.

Strict poetic forms were the norm along with antiquated language (by today’s standards).

We don’t so much write like that now, but I would draw you to the poetry of Charlotte Matthews and her book, Green Stars. I love these lines: “ the soul is like a trust, / like a cloud whose shape of angel or not, / is exactly what we need to be. //

Keep writing… with sense and sentiment

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

August 19, 2022

Rinker Buck Journeys Down the Mississippi River

Rinker Buck

Seven years ago, readers around the country fell in love with a singular American voice: Rinker Buck, whose infectious curiosity about history launched him across the West in a covered wagon pulled by mules and propelled his book about the trip, The Oregon Trail, to ten weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now, Buck returns to chronicle his latest incredible adventure: building a wooden flatboat from the bygone era of the early 1800s and journeying down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

A modern-day Huck Finn, Buck casts off down the river on the flatboat Patience accompanied by an eccentric crew of daring shipmates. Over the course of his voyage, Buck steers his fragile wooden craft through narrow channels dominated by massive cargo barges, rescues his first mate gone overboard, sails blindly through fog, breaks his ribs not once but twice, and camps every night on sandbars, remote islands, and steep levees. As he charts his own journey, he also delivers a richly satisfying work of history that brings to life a lost era.

The role of the flatboat in our country’s evolution is far more significant than most Americans realize. Between 1800 and 1840, millions of farmers, merchants, and teenage adventurers embarked from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia on flatboats headed beyond the Appalachians to Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Like the Nile, the Thames, or the Seine before them, the western rivers in America became a floating supply chain that fueled national growth. Settler families repurposed the wood from their boats to build their first cabins in the wilderness; cargo boats were broken apart and sold to build the boomtowns along the water route. Joining the river traffic were floating brothels, called “gun boats”; “smithy boats” for blacksmiths; even “whiskey boats” with taverns mounted on jaunty rafts. In the present day, America’s inland rivers are a superhighway dominated by leviathan barges—carrying $80 billion of cargo annually—all descended from flatboats like the ramshackle Patience, which must avoid being crushed alongside their metal hulls.

As a historian, Buck resurrects the era’s adventurous spirit, but he also challenges familiar myths about American expansion, confronting the bloody truth behind settlers’ push for land and wealth. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced more than 125,000 members of the Cherokee, Choctaw, and several other tribes to travel the Mississippi on a brutal journey en route to the barrens of Oklahoma. Simultaneously, almost a million enslaved African Americans were carried in flatboats and marched by foot 1,000 miles over the Appalachians to the cotton and cane fields of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, birthing the term “sold down the river.” Weaving together a tapestry of first-person histories, Buck portrays this watershed era of American expansion as it was really lived.

With a rare narrative power that blends stirring adventure with absorbing untold history, Life on the Mississippi is a mus­cular and majestic feat of storytelling from a writer who may be the closest that we have today to Mark Twain.

Here is a video of his journey on The Oregon Trail

Rinker Buck began his career in journalism at the Berkshire Eagle and was a longtime staff writer for the Hartford Courant. He has written for Vanity Fair, New York, Life, and many other publications, and his stories have won the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award. He is the author of The Oregon Trail as well as the acclaimed memoirs Flight of Passage and First Job. He lives in northwest Connecticut.

Find Rinker on Facebook

August 18, 2022

America's Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy

Beth Macy

Nearly a decade into the second wave of America's overdose crisis, pharmaceutical companies have yet to answer for the harms they created. As pending court battles against opioid makers, distributors, and retailers drag on, addiction rates have soared to record-breaking levels during the COVID pandemic, illustrating the critical need for leadership, urgency, and change. Meanwhile, there is scant consensus between law enforcement and medical leaders, nor an understanding of how to truly scale the programs that are out there, working at the ragged edge of capacity and actually saving lives.

Distilling this massive, unprecedented national health crisis down to its character-driven emotional core as only she can, Beth Macy takes us into the country’s hardest hit places to witness the devastating personal costs that one-third of America's families are now being forced to shoulder. Here we meet the ordinary people fighting for the least of us with the fewest resources, from harm reductionists risking arrest to bring lifesaving care to the homeless and addicted to the activists and bereaved families pushing to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable. These heroes come from all walks of life; what they have in common is an up-close and personal understanding of addiction that refuses to stigmatize—and therefore abandon—people who use drugs, as big pharma execs and many politicians are all too ready to do.

Like the treatment innovators she profiles, Beth Macy meets the opioid crisis where it is—not where we think it should be or wish it was. Bearing witness with clear eyes, intrepid curiosity, and unfailing empathy, she brings us the crucial next installment in the story of the defining disaster of our era, one that touches every single one of us, whether directly or indirectly. A complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race, and class that is by turns harrowing and heartening, infuriating and inspiring, Raising Lazarus is a must-read for all Americans.

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis

A “deeply reported, deeply moving” (Patrick Radden Keefe) account of everyday heroes fighting on the front lines of the overdose crisis.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Dopesick (inspiration for the Peabody Award-winning Hulu limited series) and Factory Man.

Beth Macy is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than two dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard, a J. Anthony Lukas Prize for "Factory Man,” and an L.A. Times Book Prize for “Dopesick,” which was made into a Peabody Award-winning series for Hulu starring Michael Keaton. All three of her books, including her second book, “Truevine,” were instant New York Times bestsellers.

Her fourth book with Little, Brown and Co., “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” publishes in August 2022. It is the essential follow-up to “Dopesick”: an account of the activists and ordinary people working to fight the crisis by saving lives, erasing the stigma of addiction, and holding those in power—from drugmakers to lawmakers—responsible.

She lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with her husband, Tom, and Mavis, their rescue mutt.

August 17, 2022

One of the Most Influential Books of the Decade

Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

Bryan was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book


A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books
“Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review

“Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post

August 16, 2022

Better for the Soul!


Jennifer L. Wright

has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home.

She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, one grumpy old dachshund, and her newest obsession—a guinea pig named Peanut Butter Cup.

For fans of WWII fiction comes a powerful novel by Jennifer L. Wright, Come Down Somewhere about two young women coming of age during the Trinity nuclear bomb test in 1945. Sixteen-year-old Olive Alexander has lived on a ranch in the Jornada del Muerto region of southern New Mexico her entire life. But when World War II begins, the government seizes her family’s land for the construction of a new, top secret Army post. While her mother remains behind, Olive is forced to live in nearby Alamogordo with her grandmother and find a place in a new school. When Jo Hawthorne crosses her path, Olive sees a chance for friendship—until she learns that Jo’s father is the Army sergeant who now occupies her beloved ranch. Already angry about her new reality, Olive pushes Jo away. But as she struggles to make sense of her grandmother’s lapses into the past and increasingly unsettling hints about what’s happening at the ranch, she slowly warms to Jo’s winsome faith and steady attempts at friendship . . . until one devastating day when the sky explodes around them and their lives are torn apart. Seven years later, Jo returns to Alamogordo, still angry and wounded by the betrayals of that fateful day. Determined to put the past behind her once and for all, Jo hunts for answers and begins to realize the truth may be far more complicated than she believed, leading her on a desperate search to find her friend before it’s too late.

She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers Association), and can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and sometimes (but very rarely) on Twitter.

Her debut novel, “If It Rains,” was nominated for a Kipp Award in the Historical Fiction Category.

Come Down Somewhere,” her second novel, will be released on September 6, 2022 and is now available for pre-order.

Follow her on , Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon for the latest updates on book releases, events, and more!

August 15, 2022

Key Ingredients for Top-Notch Split-Time

Amanda Wen

Whether you call it split-time, time slip, or dual timeline, books containing multiple timelines are gaining in popularity. And recent runaway bestsellers like Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing and Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours show the genre has the potential for some serious staying power. If you’re interested in trying your hand at writing split-time, here are a few key ingredients for a successful split-time story.

Two (or more) historical eras. Typically, one timeline is in the here and now, whereas the other is set sometime in the past. When should you set your past timeline? Whenever you want! Melanie Dobson and Kristy Cambron have written stories focusing on World War II-era past timelines, while Ashley Clark visits the Civil War era in her most recent release (Where the Last Rose Blooms) and Amanda Dykes will take us to 1800s Venice in her next book (All the Lost Places, releasing in December 2022). Jaime Jo Wright’s The Souls of Lost Lake takes us to the 1930s, Rachel Hauck and I have both set past stories in the 1950s, and Amanda Cox’s past timelines tend to be very recent, even as recent as the 1990s!

Linking Object. Most split-time stories involve some tangible object that links the past storyline with the present. Frequently the present-day characters encounter the object in some way and endeavor to learn about its past. The sky’s the limit when it comes to something like this, and I’ve seen lots of creative linking objects including a ring (Heidi Chiavaroli’s award-winning debut, Freedom’s Ring), a violin (Kristy Cambron’s The Butterfly and The Violin), a love letter (Pepper Basham’s Hope Between the Pages), and a steamboat (Rachel Scott McDaniel’s Undercurrent of Secrets).

I used a farmhouse in my debut, Roots of Wood and Stone, and in its sequel, The Songs That Could Have Been, an Alzheimer’s-stricken grandma served to link the two stories. Perhaps my favorite use of a linking object was a scarf in Susan Meissner’s A Fall of Marigolds; this scarf was actually missing for a good chunk of the story, so instead of searching for information about it, the characters searched for the scarf itself!

Common Theme. Many split-time stories contain similar—though not identical—themes for the present and past stories, although it can vary from author to author and even book to book. In Roots of Wood and Stone, both the contemporary heroine, Sloane, and the past heroine, Annabelle, experienced parental abandonment. How they reacted to and learned from this abandonment shaped both their character arcs.

Other books explore similar issues against the backdrop of different historical contexts. Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Orchard House explores spousal abuse in both storylines, while in Erin Bartels’ debut, We Hope For Better Things, all three (yes, three!) timelines feature interracial relationships. Setting the same situation in different eras proves fascinating for both reader and author!

Once you’ve got these ingredients assembled, mix thoroughly. This mixing is critical to split-time success. If, say, you can lift your past timeline out of the story and the present one doesn’t change at all, you might be better served fleshing out both and turning them into two separate stories! The best split-times are those where the past timeline is framework on which the present timeline is built. Neither story would be complete without the other. This is, I think, what presents the biggest challenge and greatest reward of these types of stories, and why despite having to do double the work (two eras to research, two story arcs to get right, figuring out just how and when to switch timelines to keep the plot moving), I love this genre and don’t plan to quit writing it anytime soon!

If you’d like to dive deeper into the craft of split-time writing, Melanie Dobson and Morgan Tarpley Smith have written a book on exactly that. A Split In Time: How to Write Dual Timeline, Time Slip, and Split-Time Fiction will help you navigate all the nuts and bolts of this challenging, but rewarding genre! And if you’re a fan of all things split-time, be sure to join our Facebook group, A Split In Time, where we share news about upcoming releases, reviews of books we’ve read, and the general joy of reading stories with multiple timelines.

Amanda Wen’s debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, released to both reader and critical acclaim. The book was named a 2021 Foreword INDIES Gold Award winner and was a finalist in both the Christy and Carol Awards. In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat. She loves to connect with readers through her newsletter and share book recommendations on BookBub. 

August 12, 2022

Writing by Faith, Not by Sight


Carolyn Miller

G’day from Australia! 

As an Aussie author I love to connect with readers from around the world, so it’s great to “see” you today. It’s been an exciting journey over the past few years, and I’m proud that with my newest historical release, Midnight’s Budding Morrow, I’ve now got over twenty published books. But it wasn’t an easy start. Especially for someone from “Down Under,” with limited opportunities to meet US agents or publishers at conferences, which is the usual way traditionally published authors gain representation.

The way I found my agent, and ultimately my US publisher, was through entering writing contests. Lots and lots of writing contests. And eventually, after applying the feedback given, it led to my writing improving, which ultimately led to becoming a contest finalist. So, then I started finaling, in lots and lots of contests (but never winning). It got to a point when I said to God that this would be the last contest I entered, because I didn’t have the heart to continue spending money on contest entry fees only to meet with yet more rejection. So, I entered one last contest. Then, in the new year, discovered I’d won.

That win led to an agent’s interest, but then the process began anew. This publisher was interested, then they weren’t. Another publisher was interested, but never responded to my agent. It got to a point where I kept writing, with close to ten books stashed in my computer, both historical and contemporary, wondering if a publisher would ever take the leap of faith one day on an unknown author from Australia. I completed a NaNoWriMo challenge, and as part of my win had the opportunity to self-publish my book. I loaded it up, all ready to go, when I felt this internal nudge say “don’t.” It was the last day I could take advantage of this great offer, but I heeded the internal hesitation and refrained. The next day I got an amazing offer from a publisher who took that first single book and soon offered me a three-book series. That series did so well they offered another series. Then another. These books have gone throughout the world, been translated and more, reaching people I never would have expected when that story idea first bloomed here in my little town in Australia.

I look back now and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t said listened to that nudge (I think it was God). I’m so grateful that I did heed that warning, and for the opportunities I’ve had since then. It’s given me the confidence to step into other genres and to see some of those initial books released to the world at long last.

I think we shouldn’t be scared to investigate opportunities when they arise. After nine historicals I stepped into writing contemporaries (which is where I’d originally begun), and now have a readership of both. I couldn’t have done that at the start of my writing career, so I’m grateful for the advice to stay focused on one genre. But now I’ve had more experience, I’m glad I don’t need to limit myself to one style of writing, that the stories I feel God imprinted on my heart can be shared with others around the world.

Sometimes an author writes by faith, not by sight. We don’t know what opportunities await us, but if we keep writing, keep learning and improving our craft, keep trying, we’ll be ready when those opportunities pass our way.

One of the very first books I ever wrote was a contemporary romance called Love on Ice, after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, when I saw an Aussie female athlete holding hands with a US male athlete and wondered what their story was. I finally saw a much rewritten and edited version of this book published just in time for the Winter Olympics this year. It might’ve taken twelve years but writing and publishing experience and a LOT of hard work over the years finally saw this dream come true.

My recent Gothic-flavored historical Midnight’s Budding Morrow has a heroine who steps into a new role when opportunity presents itself. It proves very challenging for her, but Sarah is not afraid of hard work, and her new role sees her ultimately blessing many others, something that wouldn’t have happened if she’d stayed content with the status quo and hadn’t obeyed that God-prompted internal nudge. Who knows who will be blessed on the other side of our obedience?

We don’t know what the future holds, but seeing our lives are but a short dash between our birth and death it makes sense to set ourselves up to be ready for when opportunity arises. So maybe that means writing the story of your heart. Maybe that means saying yes to something new or different, that doesn’t fit the status quo or what other people expect of you. Maybe that means working hard now so you can take that dream vacation and switch off for ten days on a tropical island. Whatever it is, I pray that we won’t be people who shrink back, but press on, into all that God has for us, so we can experience the ‘life to the full’ that Jesus offers his followers.

So, keep trying, keep hoping, keep believing that your ‘one day’ will happen. Keep trusting God has good plans for you and take a step believing for the exceedingly abundant life of more. That’s living by faith, and this life is for living, no matter where we are in the world.

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years and worked as a public high school English teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and LM Montgomery, Carolyn loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her contemporary romance series includes the Original Six hockey romance series, and the Independence Islands series, and her historical series include the Regency Brides and Regency Wallflowers series.

Connect with her:

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August 11, 2022

Using Your Pain to Enhance Your Novel Writing

 Janyre Tromp

Write what you know.

The oft heard adage isn’t necessarily a charge to write your memoir or a requirement to only write characters that have the same occupation as you. It’s an encouragement to take the emotions, experiences, and stories you know and weave them into your writing. It’s an opportunity to give powerful, compelling depth to your characters—things that sell books and get people talking.

So, when I started writing a story sparked by my grandparents’ experience post-WWII, I infused my own childhood trauma into a story dealing with PTSD (Shadows in the Mind’s Eye). But when my daughter became deathly ill, the terrifying experiences gave me an entirely different level of fear and hurt and anger.

I wanted all the pain to mean something. I wanted to find a way through to the other side, to use what I’d learned in a way that made my story even more authentic and the journey for the reader that much more arresting.

But how does one go about using the pain of the past in their writing?

1.      1. It ain’t about you.

Books are meant to benefit the reader. While writing can be cathartic, sometimes it takes several years for your mind and body to settle enough to write directly about trauma in a way that invites the reader into the story. Until that point, you’re still living the story, sorting emotions, and healing. You have to complete the journey yourself before you can draw a map to the words “The End.”

2.      2. Journal in the moment.

That said, journal your feelings, discoveries, and research. It’s amazing what details you’ll forget a few years down the road. I didn’t want to forget what it feels like to wake up from a nightmare and momentarily not know if we’re in the hospital again or not because that feeling is exactly what my hero, Sam, felt in my book when his PTSD blurs the lines between reality and nightmare.

3.      3. Give your experience breadth.

Just because you haven’t experienced a specific kind of pain doesn’t mean that your feelings and experiences don’t transfer. For me I don’t have battlefield PTSD like Sam, but I could take the helpless feelings and panic I know all too well and combine that with extensive research to create a realistic world for Sam who, it seems “the war had got hold of like a terrier and wouldn’t let go.” And sometimes writing about a similar emotion in a different setting (not writing directly about the pain) is not only cathartic, but effective. A friend of mine was struggling with her kids not sleeping and wrote a RomCom that brought in some of the frustration, but in a way that made everyone laugh.

4.       4. Make delving into a group activity.

Writing in isolation . . . especially writing about painful topics can send an author in a downward spiral. If you plan to write a character with deep emotional wounds, you’ll be putting yourself in their world. You will feel the dark moment of the soul and it will remind you of your own. Without friends, family, or maybe even a professional, you could easily get stuck there.

5.       5. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel.

They say a writer who cries over her keyboard will create readers who cry over their books. And that’s a good thing . . . except when it’s not. There were times I just couldn’t. So, I made notes to myself in the manuscript about scenes I needed to go back to.

    There was a scene about Sam & Annie’s daughter that took me some time to be     able to write, but I wrote it, and I love it now. Another thing I struggled with was         how to wrap up a book that was about mental health struggles. For many of us,     we don’t just get over it and things don’t go back to “normal.” I wanted a realistic     ending. One that shows the hope I have, and that light can sneak through the         broken places, but it isn’t without struggle. No matter what experience you have,      it’s a valid and necessary discussion.

Whatever your experience and whatever your genre, using your own past experiences and pain can take your book to another level. What other suggestions would you give to writers working to enhance their writing with their own real-life experience?

Janyre Tromp is a developmental editor by day and writer of historical novels with a dose of suspense at night. And that all happens from her kitchen table when she’s not hanging out with her husband, two kids, two troublesome cats, and slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.



Instagram: www.instagram/JanyreTromp

August 10, 2022

How to Prepare Your Writing Contest Entry

Erica Vetsch

It’s writing contest season! Know how I know? Because it’s Writing Contest Judging Season!

I’m a judge in several writing contests each year, and I love it. I see a wide variety of entries in these contests, and a few that would have scored higher if the writer had followed a few simple tips. These tips, if followed, can mean the difference between winning and not.

1. Maximize the Easy Points! – This means reading and following all the contest guidelines. Everything from proper formatting to entering your work in the correct category. Every year I see people lose guaranteed points because they didn’t follow the directions. Contests often dictate the spacing, margins, length of (or whether you need) a synopsis, etc. Don’t throw away points on something that is TOTALLY under your control.

2. Get Help! – If you’re a grammar maven, you have a leg up on a lot of novelists. Frequently, one of the judged areas is: Does the entrant have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation? Sadly, the answer to this is often, no. Hire an editor, swap critiques with a punctuation ninja writer friend, find your old English teacher and offer her flowers and chocolates if she’ll look over and correct your work. Lots of points are lost because of grammar and punctuation mistakes.

3. Check for Balance! – Do you have pages and pages of narrative with no dialogue? Or snappy, on the nose dialogue that reads like a ping-pong match, but no setting or description? Print your entry, spread it on the floor, and stand back. Is it covered in white space, or is there no white space at all? A good story needs a balance of both dialogue and narrative, and if your story is heavy on one or the other, it will lose valuable points in the judging.

4. Know the Basics! – If you don’t understand showing vs. telling or point of view, resisting the urge to explain or the hallmarks of the genre you’re trying to write, your ms isn’t going to fare too well. Find a critique partner or two, take some classes, learn the basics before you waste entry money on a contest, only to hemorrhage points.

I would encourage you to study the guidelines and goals of the writing contests you hope to enter and see if they align with your own. What do you hope to get out of a writing contest? Validation that you’re on the right track? A trophy and bragging rights? Honest feedback that will help you grow as a writer? Each writer has a different reason for entering a writing contest, and if you manage your expectations, and take the time to ensure your content is the best it can be, you will be one step closer to achieving your writing goals. I hope to see your sparkling, shiny, brilliant work in a contest soon!

Erica Vetsch, Best-selling, award-winning author, loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at

where she spends way too much time!

August 9, 2022

Why Should I Read Poetry?

Sara M. Robinson

Recently I came across an old article, “The Importance of Reading Poetry.” This made me stop and think more about what I’ve shared with others about this importance. I have known poets who have told me they don’t read other poets’ works. When I asked why, the usual response was, “I’m too busy writing my own poems.” What?

If we are not reading other poets, we are missing out on a lot of great literature. There are so many great poets out there now that I can’t keep up. How can anyone ignore Wendell Berry?

Billy Collins? The late Mary Oliver? The rest of this column could be a list. But I want to take this space to give some suggestions and maybe some insight. I will draw on others who have responded to this question as well. Here’s a starting list:

1. Reading other poetry will increase your vocabulary and expand language.

2. Imitating other poets is a great way to learn to write poetry.

3. Pick up an anthology, such as The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, 2nd edition.(Edited by J.D.McClatchy). 1990.

4. Reading a variety of poems will train you to look for special forms, such as rhymes and flow.

5. Get outside your comfort zone and read everything you can. Even twice. Just don’t hurry.

6. Don’t live in a literary vacuum. Share your poetry unless you have decided that no one else will ever see it.

7. If you want others to read your poetry, then you must read what others are writing.

Think of reading poetry as the same as attending a symphony. Pick out parts you like and listen to the parts you don’t. Read some bad poetry and use this as a personal measuring stick for your writing. Also read translations and explore regional poetry, such as those from inner cities.

Lastly, unleash enthusiasm for poetry. Yours included. Don’t think of other poets as competitors. Remember, a rising tide floats all ships.

Until next time…
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).